eCommerce Post-Holiday Returns: How to Avoid and Repair Gift Receiver’s Remorse

November 15, 2022
Michaela Barriga

Our partners at Fondue, Wonderment, and Kickbox provide tips for reducing eCommerce return rates around the holidays.

The end-of-the-year shopping sprint is upon us. As you prepare for the holiday hustle, it’s easy to overlook one important question:

Are you prepared for post-holiday returns?

Although holiday giving is a time for finding “the perfect gift,” sometimes givers miss the mark. They may buy the wrong color, wrong size, wrong style, or just the wrong gift for someone. 

In the past few years, consistently over half of shoppers made a return or exchange after the holiday season. Returns between Christmas and the New Year can sometimes spike 70% higher than normal. And each online return costs eCommerce retailers an average of 21% of the order’s original value. Ouch! 

The reality of post-holiday returns can be a discouraging blow to retailers celebrating their holiday sales. When driving and retaining revenue is more important (and harder) than ever, the panic you may feel as a marketer is very real!  What should you do?  How do you prevent returns?  And how do you come out on top this holiday season?

Preparing for returns involves a purposeful before and after strategy, and good news: we are here to help!  

This month, we sat down with our partners Fondue, Wonderment, and Kickbox to ask how they help retailers prevent online returns and still succeed even when receiving a return.

And we thought in the spirit of the holidays, how would the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Past, Present, and Future give this advice?

Follow the journey with us as we visit:

Advice from The Ghost of Christmas Shopping Past

Advice from The Ghost of Christmas Shopping Present

Advice from The Ghost of Christmas Shopping Future

Let’s take a stroll through A Shopping Christmas Carol!

Advice from the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Past

Think ahead to avoid returns before the holiday shopping season begins. Be careful not to get so caught up in the vision of end-of-the-year sales that you neglect to help shoppers buy the right gift the first time. In the end, this will help both your bottom line and their customer experience.

What advice can we glean from the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Past?

Show the Right Gift: Gift Guides with Digioh

The best way to avoid holiday returns ahead of time is to help shoppers identify the perfect gift on the first try. Our customers are preparing to greet their holiday shoppers with interactive gift guide quizzes

interactive gift guide quiz example

Gift guide quizzes walk shoppers through a quick series of questions (no more than 8) about the person they’re shopping for. These guides can help shoppers narrow down their shopping to the right age, gender, style, personality, or any other trait applicable to your product line.

Shoppers love these product recommendation quizzes because it makes their shopping experience faster, simpler, and more accurate on the first try. And quizzes increase your sales as well. Some of our customers experience a 4.9X increase in purchases from first time visitors who take their quiz compared to those who don’t. 

Show the Right Fit: Fit Finder Quizzes with Digioh

Do you sell clothing? Jewelry? Or any other product that requires sizing? Don’t get bogged down by post-holiday returns related to sizing. Help shoppers buy the right fit the first time with a fit finder quiz, like this one from our customer Andie.

andie fit finder quiz that can prevent returns for ecommerce

No one enjoys the ambiguity of wondering whether or not what they’re buying will actually fit them or the special person they’re buying for. Structure your quiz to be a fit finder and give customers the confidence to know they are buying their perfect fit!

But sometimes, even with the best gift guide or fit finder quiz in the world, the perfect gift can still fall through the cracks.

Advice from the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Present

What should you do in the midst of the shopping season to prevent returns after the holidays? It’s simple: build relationships. The better a customer’s shopping experience, the less likely they are to have to make a return in the first place. 

If a customer does have to make a return, they may make a purchase at the same time or come back to shop in the future, all because of the great service you provided for them while shopping.

Know Who’s Subscribing: Real-time Email Verification with Kickbox

The holidays are the perfect time to grow your email list. More site visitors means more opportunities to connect. Beyond collecting emails with pop-ups, how can you make sure you’re making meaningful connections? 

Our partner Kickbox specializes in real-time email verification.

email verifications with kickbox

Here’s the advice they have!

“The latter months of the year are often known for being filled with an overabundance of emails, money tossing, and deal snatching. And it’s a great time to organically grow your list. But it’s also a time when your list can be degraded if it doesn’t grow with care. 

"Real-time email list verification can help keep your list growing with quality emails. The emails that will add to your program and not detract from it.

"Not only does real-time verification (verification done at the point of collection) keep poor quality data out of your database by flagging emails that don’t exist or carry risk. You can even filter out those with low value, like those coming to your site to try to capitalize on short-term incentives using disposable domain services.

"But what is even more valuable than weeding out the unwanted is that it ensures that those truly interested and are ready to start a relationship aren’t lost due to typos.” 

- Jennifer Nespola Lantz, VP Industry Relations & Deliverability, Kickbox

Using real-time email list verification can help ensure brands have a legitimate way to communicate with customers through the buying process with confirmation emails, shipping updates, return policies, etc. 

With this solution, even if a customer does decide to return, the process is seamless. A good customer experience goes a long way: the customer may be more likely to simply exchange the gift or purchase from you in the future.

Communicate Clearly and Consistently: SMS Notifications with Wonderment

What else can you do in the present, in the middle of holiday shopping season? Wonderment’s shipment communication platform covers both what to do in the present as well as takes a peek into how to mitigate returns in the future!

automate shipping notifications with wonderment

Here’s what they have to share:

“Mitigating returns can quite literally pave or destroy the path to profitability during the holidays and beyond for retail and eCommerce brands. While some returns are inevitable (wrong size, color, etc.) many returns can actually be prevented through one strategy - eliminating buyer's remorse. 

"This strategy is fundamental in helping a customer have the utmost confidence that the product(s) they just purchased is right for them. Removing buyer's remorse is all about instilling purchase confidence and one of the best ways to do this is to focus your efforts on proactive communication and customer education/onboarding. 

"Customers want to know where their order is throughout the pre-arrival journey. That’s why it is critical to use a tool like Wonderment to set up shipment notifications. These notifications proactively alert a customer via SMS and email about where their order is at, whether it’s just shipped, is out for delivery, or has even been delayed by something like inclement weather.

"These constant communications take a proactive approach to customer experience, reducing “where is my order” tickets by up to 50%, which can be critical in removing buyer's remorse pre-arrival.

"We can also mitigate returns by focusing our post-purchase communication strategy on educating customers on the product(s) they’ve just purchased. While it can be difficult to get a customer's attention in a crowded holiday inbox, the best place to grab their attention is actually your transactional email and SMS notifications to link to a branded order tracking page with a tool like Wonderment. 

"These messages see 10-15x higher engagement rates than marketing messages and are the perfect vehicle to deliver product education and customer onboarding. Many of our merchants like Uqora and Ridge Wallet are leveraging the high engagement of transactional messages and order tracking pages as a way to lead with value, mitigate buyers' remorse, and ultimately reduce their customer returns.” 

- Blake Imperl, Head of Merchant Growth and Enablement

Advice from the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Future

Even after all of your prep work and relationship-building during the shopping experience, you will still face some returns. But you can strategize and mitigate your expenses. You can come out with loyal customers who will purchase in the future.

It’s important to remember these returns are not the end of the journey! For those facing returns after the holidays, here are some solutions.

Incentivize Future Sales: Cashback with Fondue

It was exciting to chat with William Herlands, Co-Founder and CTO from our partner, Fondue, a cashback rewards platform for Shopify merchants, and learn about their revenue-saving solution.

cashback with fondue

Here’s what Will had to share:

“Fondue is an alternative to discounts," says Herlands. "Instead of giving a 10% discount, you can give 20% cashback.” Yes, they mean actual money back to the customer!

“Shoppers are highly incentivized because you can put a bigger sticker price benefit for the shopper.” 

You actually make a lot more money with Fondue’s cashback approach when compared to the classic coupon. “Customers have to redeem their cashback post-purchase, and most people don’t redeem, so you end up recovering around 70% of that money.” That’s 70% more revenue in your pocket, compared to coupons where you hand the discount to the customer right away!

Fondue highlights continuous commerce, noting “A return isn’t the end of the journey…you can give them an incentive to come back. A profitable incentive to come back that will totally destroy your margins.”

Changing how you communicate with your customers during their return will change the way they respond and purchase from you in the future. This leads us to our final piece of advice from the Ghost of Christmas Shopping Future!

Mitigate the Costs: Return Surveys with Digioh

How do you lead your customer through the return process? 

There are the necessary logistics: packaging, labeling, drop off, and so on. If this is the extent of your communication, you are missing out on the revenue of the return, revenue from a purchase or exchange at that moment, and even future purchases. Remember, it’s all about relationships. Digioh customers are using multi-step forms to understand more about their customers’ returns and what they should buy instead.

a return survey quiz that can lead customers to exchange a gift instead of returning it
This return survey quiz guides shoppers to exchange their purchase for a better fit.

For example, here’s what a return survey can tell you and how you can respond:

  • If people purchase the wrong size, help them find the right size.
  • If people expected something different than they received, show them an item that actually serves their purpose.
  • When people don't like the style of what they received, connect them with the item that fits their style.

Shoppers today desire a personalized shopping experience – and they’ll return to the stores that speak directly to them using dynamic forms like this. How could you use a survey to increase sales as returns come in?

logos of brands that help reduce ecommerce return rates including digioh, fondue, kickbox, and wonderment

Reduce eCommerce Return Rates with Digioh and Our Partners

There are so many ways to help your business avoid the post-holiday influx of returns before and during the shopping rush. But some returns will still come, and you don’t have to accept defeat when they do. Just like our partners shared with us: a return is not the end of your customer journey.

Over 75% of shoppers say they’re likely to make a purchase at the same time of a return. How can you capitalize on this opportunity to retain some revenue?

It may seem strange to say, but you can take advantage of this holiday return season. In every challenge there is opportunity. And you deserve to hold on to as much of your hard-earned holiday revenue as possible.

Michaela Barriga
Content & Partner Marketing Manager
Michaela is Digioh’s Content & Partner Marketing Manager and oversees all things content and partner connection. With a passion for helping businesses grow stronger through organization and authentic connection, Michaela has worked with small and large businesses in copywriting, content creation, and project organization. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and their 2 black lab mixes.

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